Fashion Illustrator and Story Board Artist, Juan Diaz

How did you get interested in fashion illustration?

My interest and passion for fashion illustration started at 4 years old, when I first grabbed a pencil… always sketching beautiful girls.

Growing up in Puerto Rico exposed me from day one to human goddesses and nymphs, of all kinds and forms, yet at 5 years old I saw, for the first time, a real fashion model, 11 inches tall… my neighbor got a Barbie, I saw her, and fell in love with her girly proportions, gorgeous face and hair, and tiny little couture pieces that came with her, and all her friends…

Being around my Mother and sister, and cousins and friends, like Marlen, Lucy, Dora, Ibeth, Charo and Cuchi, exposed me to both the hair and make up world, as well as fashion, art and music… Sue Ling García, a year younger in my high school, with inner and outer beauty, inspired me, and still does, to sketch models,

She herself became the first Latina Cover Girl model ever…

Once I grabbed an American edition of VOGUE, and my stunning high school friends played with me drawing models on notebooks and tables, I decided my future would be in fashion illustration… (not design because of sewing… yet I could, and can, design anything, seamstress permitting).

With Brook S., Margaux H., Jacklyn S. and Farrah F. also as muses, I went to Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to study Illustration in 1982, getting a BFA in Communication Design, and stepping into the world with three portfolios: Fine arts/ Illustration, Graphic Design, and, ultimately, Fashion Illustration. Rose Fabricant in the Fashion Dept. guided me as a teacher into the real world of fashion drawing… where an anatomically correct high fashion model was the way…

Right after Pratt, I started working at Seventeen Magazine, from 1986 to 1992. There, I pre visualized my first ideas for photo shoots, and discovered the magic of turning a concept into a drawing, which could be used as a most impressive tool to make an image come to life. All fashion and beauty, creativity flowing down Third Avenue to the World…

Interpretations of my pre production drawings for photo shoots took off into the real fashion model drawing, showing it’s pure strength…

My interest in fashion illustration was very solid at this point. I was 22. I realized I loved drawing anything… from a bikini to a gown…

Then I came to Los Angeles, where for many years I pre visualized worldwide print and film campaigns for L”OREAL. My expertise in Beauty evolved me. I realized the creative process is collaborative in nature, therefore, always allowing the white paper to serve as an invitation for an adventure…This is what I find most attractive.

Never exactly knowing where the beginning of the image will be, I do tend to find my models head first in the universe created… Right now, Puerto Rican top model Joan Smalls is a real muse for me, so perhaps her face will start the rest of the flow in her body, from the crown down to her foot that holds her weight… Then I will find my collarbone, crotch and waist, work out a torso, and our girl is ready to do anything we want, our imagination being the limit…This world is created around the model, from the inside out… always with the total look in mind, as in styling, art direction, and most importantly, hair and make up… Since drawing is designing, inventions are a natural…

 

What is your creative process?

 

I like to draw on paper, and then play a bit with Photoshop…

Are there any fashion illustrators you admire?

Antonio López, Eric Stanton, Kenneth Paul Block are true inspirations, yet I do love the Master’s drawings even more… as in Leonardo… Cave paintings have always fascinated me too…

My source of creativity comes from nature, the one we see and more, which includes humans…

Who are your favorite designers?

Some of my favorite established design houses are Chanel, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Emilio Pucci… as well as Calvin Klein, Prada,

Rick Owens, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Lacoste…

You are also a professor at FIDM, can you tell us what it is like to teach?

In my late thirties I realized that I had to share all this great new knowledge… and the Fashion Institute, downtown Los Angeles, offered me the perfect platform: Costume Illustration for Film and TV, as well as Fashion Sketch. By teaching I learn; each student offering me the biggest opportunities for mutual growth. Teaching or sketching, are not like ‘working’… On the contrary, it is more like playing… with paper dolls perhaps, yet giving power to a set of graphite strokes in infinite ways… magic always being the result.

I am currently working on a couple of books, a collection of skateboards, an art fashion project called ARTKTR, two fashion collections, an invention, teaching and doing storyboards for the fashion and beauty industries… and more. My current agency is Warshaw Blumenthal in New York City, yet I reside in Manhattan Beach, California, 100 steps to the sand. Very inspired indeed..!

Juan Diaz is represented by Warshaw Blumenthal. Keep a lookout at artktr.com for all the Fall 2015 happenings.

Lauren Conrad’s Kohl’s Runway Collection
Secure your tray table, fall fashion is here

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